As I’ve learned over my years with the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), in order to make an impact, our information needs to meet the needs of the people who use the data we produce. And while we constantly try to gauge and meet their needs, it is imperative to speak to our data users directly to get their input. We are open to feedback all the time and we hold annual special Data Users’ Meeting in Chicago every October.
Of course face-to-face interaction has its limitations since not everyone can travel to Chicago to meet with us. To address this concern, for the first time this year, we are also adding a social media component to our Data Users’ Meeting. Immediately following the panel session at the meeting, from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central Time, I will be answering questions via Twitter during our monthly #StatChat.
This interaction, both in person and online, affords NASS, as well as other statistical agencies, a unique opportunity to hear how our data are used and how program changes impact various individuals and groups that rely on accurate agricultural statistics. This is also a fantastic platform to find out what additional programs are desired and which programs need to be adjusted to become more useful.
At this year’s meeting, which will be held later today, NASS will be joined by other agencies that work with agricultural statistics, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Economic Research Service, Farm Service Agency, and the World Agricultural Outlook Board along with the U.S. Census Bureau. As you can imagine, with so many major agricultural data providers at one table, there is a broad range of topics, covering both domestic and international production as well as international trade, to discuss.
For example, one of the key topics I’m looking forward to discussing is the new program focused on the costs of honey bee pollination. This was a highly requested program, which we introduced in January 2016, and I am looking forward to hearing how well it meets the needs and expectations of our data users. NASS is also looking into making changes to our price program. We’re currently testing data collection for fertilizer, chemicals, farm machinery, seed, and feed prices. Publishing these price indexes for farm inputs should be a big step forward in keeping up with the fast changing pace of agriculture in the United States.
I hope meeting both in-person and on Twitter #StatChat will help us strengthen our relationship with all of our data users. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!